Joint statement skirts key issues

June 25, 2013 02:07 am | Updated November 16, 2021 08:33 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

The Joint Statement on the Fourth Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue, issued over nine hours after Foreign Ministers had wrapped up their deliberations, saw no mention of some of the biggest global challenges, such as the prospects of peace talks with the Taliban, the situation in Syria and Iran’s nuclear file.

The two principals of Monday’s dialogue, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, called for sustained support from the international community to forge a stable Afghanistan and stressed that the international community must support free and fair elections next year in Afghanistan.

There was no mention of the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar and the U.S.’ plans to hold talks with the insurgent group. Instead, the statement staidly mentions that success in Afghanistan requires an Afghan-led reconciliation process that preserved the historic political, economic and social progress made over the past decade.

The land route via Pakistan is crucial for the Western forces to pull out their expensive heavy military equipment. Perhaps to safeguard the route, Mr. Kerry neither made any mention, during his two public engagements on Sunday and Monday, of terrorism nor commiserated with the victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, disappointing many in the strategic community.

However, India managed to get the statement to make mention of the need for concerted efforts to address the challenge of terrorism in the region, including the dismantling of terrorist safe havens and disrupting all financial and tactical support for terrorism.

There was also no mention of U.S. support for India’s bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. This formulation has been the staple of Joint Statements with several other countries. The statement, however, said the U.S. was in step with India on its intention of joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group.

Government sources said the there was delay in issuing the statement because “many Ministries [were] working on their issues and they needed clearance from their bosses”.

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